One of the broadcast regulator’s central arguments about Press TV is that it is not convinced that editorial control is based in Britain. I’ve worked for numerous foreign channels that are allowed to broadcast in the UK, so I know this discrepancy will come as a surprise to my former employers at the London offices of CNN International, Bloomberg and Al Jazeera, all of which ultimately answer, editorially, to bosses in Atlanta, New York and Doha.
Press TV Ltd., a UK-based production company making programs for Press TV has also been fined USD 155,000. This was because the channel in Tehran, broadcast an interview with Maziar Bahari of Newsweek whilst he was in prison. Bahari, who I have appeared with on discussion panels about the situation in Iran, is on the record as saying he wants Press TV banned and, basically, war on Iran. His views on banning TV stations are shared by the British government. We know this thanks to WikiLeaks which released a secret cable from 2010 detailing the views of Jaime (sic) Turner, “Deputy Head of Multi-lateral affairs at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office”:
Her Majesty’s Government is looking at other ways to address the issue. Her Majesty’s Government is exploring ways to limit the operations of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting’s PRESS TV service. However, UK law sets a very high standard for denying licenses to broadcasters. Licenses can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a license would be contrary to Britain’s obligations under international law. Currently, neither of these standards can be met with respect to PRESS TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months, a case may be able to be made on the second criterion.
While it is obviously a badge of honor for journalists to provoke such paranoia in a government – how is Press TV threatening UK national security?!
Read the full article by Afshin Rattansi at counterpunch.com.